Mark Cushway is a dynamic business personality, who helps both companies and individuals reach their full potential through inspired leadership.
‘Inspired’ being a key word, as Mark is the CEO of The Inspired Group, a position from which he oversees companies operating in the field of consultancy, leisure, and hospitality.
An investor and motivator, Mark regularly offers his valuable insights as a speaker, helping those attending his talks to develop to the best of their abilities.
With a long and varied business background, Mark has honed his skills in a variety of leadership roles over the years, and has also overcome enormous personal challenges to become the influencer he is today.
Here he tells CXM about his life and passion for motivating employees, and how any company can get the best out of their staff…
Tell us a little about your personal background, and what brought you to a position where you wished to help other businesses grow successfully.
I was lucky to land quite a mature job at a young age after convincing an estate agent to offer me a role.
From the age of 16 I was dealing with people making large purchases and who needed to meet someone very mature, so I guess I grew up quickly.
I proved to be a pretty decent communicator and getting people excited about ideas, and at 17 I was a negotiator dealing with people a lot older than me.
This created a real passion for sales and also for leadership. I have been in charge of companies with tens of millions in turnover since I was 23 years old, managing people twice my age and often with more experience.
I found people much older would have been unable to ignore my young age, and often would not take you as seriously. This just made me work even harder, and it paid off very quickly.
The sales business is all about motivation and self-belief so I guess the last three decades have been about looking after people, giving them a sense of value, and building passion for the company objectives.
Those same skills are transferable to general business outside of the sales industry.
You’re a renowned motivational speaker; what advice would you give to companies seeking to motivate staff and drive their business forward?
I think the key is to establish a culture of caring. It’s easy to run a successful business if you have buy-in from the people around you.
So why should someone go the extra mile for you and your clients? Why should someone not take advantage of sick days?
The answer is often what they ‘feel’ for the company they work for. The passion for the mission and how their personal and family success is intertwined with the business.
If you can establish that culture within your company, you will build loyalty and create a formidable work force. The power of the collective is something to behold when it’s done properly.
Don’t forget also, there’s not a one-size-fits-all policy here. What motivates one person, might not work with another, so you must customise wherever possible.
What, in your opinion, are the common mistakes companies make when it comes to looking after employees?
Through my consultancy practice I meet a lot of business leaders, and what I see in the general workplace is there is still a segment of business leadership that has a somewhat Victorian approach.
‘I pay them and they should be grateful’ is still far too common a response to the question ‘what are you doing for your team’s wellbeing?’
Staff wellbeing is not some hippie concept. Caring is not a luxury today and with the younger millennial generation becoming an increasingly large percentage of the workforce, this is not something that can be ignored.
For the hard-nosed numbers people out there, I can tell you that caring in a deeply personal way about the people who are dedicating a big chunk of their life to you and your company brings a better bottom line and more profit.
You were diagnosed with leukemia, and went through difficult treatment before receiving the all-clear. How did this experience affect your attitudes towards life, and did it in any way affect your ability to motivate others?
There’s no doubt it was a horrible experience, but it was also life changing in a positive way.
I believe it’s not what happens to you, rather it’s what you do about it that makes the difference.
I was 44 years old at the time, and I guess I just took life and health for granted.
However, I was very lucky to have an incredible wife and family who were amazingly supportive during the chemo and blood transfusions. I came out the other end of that as a much nicer person with much more empathy.
I was always grateful for the things I was blessed with but I guess I was a little dismissive of other people’s issues.
Now, I spend a lot of time making sure people appreciate the small things in life that really are the most important, such as family and those magic moments that make life so precious.
I definitely think that it has enhanced my passion for staff wellbeing. I implicated a real care strategy within my own companies and that has translated into the four biggest years I have ever had. So, from something so terrible, something good has come.
You have also begun charity work to help fellow cancer survivors; what are the differences in running a successful business and a successful charity?
The charity, Care After Cancer, is still in its infancy, but I guess it depends on how one measures success in charity terms.
In business it’s easy because it’s a balance sheet issue, but in a charity that is looking to help cancer survivors and their families cope with life after illness from a mental strength perspective, one person who feels better and stronger is a success.
I am a very lucky man blessed with many things and sharing some of that luck and good fortune is not just the right thing to do – it’s also personally very satisfying.
Helping others with charity, including MP Liam Fox, provides a nice balance to running lots of businesses and consulting, where the focus is often on profit and better bottom lines.
Don’t get me wrong – as a business person that’s the whole point, but doing some nice things alongside that is very rewarding.
You’re passionate about organisations helping employees to thrive. Tell us about how this can translate to good customer experience?
I think there are examples of companies with leaders who have established a real culture of care within their teams.
Richard Branson has been quoted many times, saying that he does not need to worry about his customers if he makes sure his team are happy and excited to make his company amazing.
They ensure the people have a great customer journey and that’s the same in any business. If your team turn up for work passionate about the company and eager to please, then the customer enjoys that experience, because they will see that employee going above and beyond for them.